ResPoss Culture Club | Inyenzi: A Story of Love and Genocide

22 August 2014 | ResolutionPossible

Inyenzi story love genocideIn our second post for ResPoss Culture Club, in keeping with the theme of the anniversary of the mass killing inRwanda 20 years ago, Resolution:Possible has chosen to look at literaturesurrounding the violence. The book we have chosen is written by South African author Andrew Brown and is entitled ‘Inyenzi: A Story of Love and Genocide.’

On July 7th 1994, the RPF finally took hold of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, and bought to an end 100 days of what is now known as genocide, which is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of nearly 1 million Rwandans. On July 7th 2014, Rwanda commemorated the 20th anniversary of these events and came to the end of its national mourning period, which has lasted from April to July.

During the time of Rwanda’s mourning, ResPoss Culture Club asked our readers, followers and supporters to take the time to watch Hotel Rwanda, an American film that portrays the 1994 killings and is based on a true story. We then asked you to offer us your thoughts and opinions of the film and open up a discussion looking at the representation of this event in Rwanda’s history, how it is depicted by the West and how it affects Rwandans.

About the book

The book follows the lives of three main characters, from the years before the genocide, through the events of the genocide, and right into the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The events look at the inter-linked lives of a Hutu priest, Melchoir, his childhood friend Victor, a prominent figure within the Interahamwe police and a Tutsi teacher, Selena, who seeks friendship and later safety from Melchoir.

The book investigates how the genocide affects each of them personally, how they come to be aware of the impending horrors and how they chose to react to the events- from fleeing to safety, attempting to secure safety for others or becoming one of the leading regional masterminds for genocidal activity.

As the title suggests, the book’s two main themes are love and death, each becoming entwined with the other throughout the story.

ResPoss asks

This book invokes many emotions in the reader, and hopefully many of you will have thoughts and opinions to share, but here are some things to think about whilst reading:

  • Andrew Brown is a South African author. Does the book suggest to the reader that he had any specific angle when writing the book? Does he aim to provoke certain emotions, or a certain political angle from his writing?
  • The book is a fiction piece, although it largely based on events documented in the aftermath of the 1994 killings. Does the fact that the characters in the book are fictitious make the events written about easier to digest? Or does the fact that the story is told from a personal perspective allow the reader to relate to the events more effectively? Why would the author chose the format of a fictional novel over a more factual re-telling of the events?
  • Compared to films such as Hotel Rwanda or Shooting Dogs, does this book make you think differently about the events in 1994 and the way the violence occurred and spread throughout the country? Does it highlight the effects it had on the communities of Rwanda differently? Is this done in a more effective or accurate way than some of the cinematic depictions of the events?
  • Watch this short clip of Andrew Brown’s speech at the launch of ‘Inyenzi’ in 2007. What do you think about his statement “I’ve tried to undermine that very easy historical conclusion that we cling to, that is in the case of Rwanda that Hutus are violent and dangerous people and Tutsis are the ever compassionate victims”. Is he right about this general perception of the two groups, and does he manage to move away from those stereotypes?

To share your thoughts, either sign in or register with WordPress to allow you to post comments below. Alternatively use you Facebook account to post a comment below. We share our posts on all our social media platforms, another opportunity for you to have your say. If the book inspires you enough, you could even add your voice to our Perspectives forum.



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